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Defence Minister at European Forum

Friday, June 19
Minister of Defence of Georgia Tinatin Khidasheli attended the European Forum in Austria. High-ranking officials from different countries gathered in Wachau to discuss the future of Europe over two days.

Defence Minister of Georgia delivered a speech to the participants. Tinatin Khidasheli started her address with the existing circumstances in Tbilisi caused due to heavy rain. “It’s extremely difficult for me to be far away from my people, as far as the natural disaster caused the deaths of my fellow citizens and damage to the infrastructure”.

During her address, the Defence Minister outlined the challenges Georgia faces, Russia’s actions, security policy and Georgia’s NATO membership prospects.

“History proves and we strongly believe that when we talk about enlargement whenever the enlargement of freedom stops totalitarianism enlarges. This is proved by history. When we talk about the political or practical or abstract borders of Europe for us this is freedom. This is the free world where we want to belong to. This is what we are fighting for and we are going to continue fighting to become the part of that free world. I believe the world is not going to tell us 'don’t become the part of the free world, go back to totalitarianism'. We hope it is not going to happen.

Our hopes today are very much associated to NATO Warsaw Summit next year where we believe that the granting Membership Action Plan (MAP) to Georgia is the number one agenda issue for NATO as for Georgia.

Because we see it as an opportunity for NATO to prove to every nation which wants to join the free world, who want to be living in peace and security, that there is room for them, because that is all what NATO is about – freedom, peace and security.

We hope that we will manage it to have that delivered in Warsaw next year. But again, we are going to fight for that. But my questions are and we are requiring the answers - what is the vision of Europe’s positive agenda, road map, plan of EU and NATO as two, three, ten years perspective towards those countries – are you going to say no to enlargement or you are going to say yes to enlargement?

When I hear the strong statements that there will be no enlargement for next five years, I am sorry but I am a politician, a very direct person, not a diplomat, and I think it is a flawed statement. If we believe that it is not going to happen during the next five years it sends a very strong message to those who are hoping that Europe will not expand any further. What is it that Georgia needs to do more – this is my second question – to fulfil those technicalities and be there, on top of the agenda and to be considered again?

Another question is – if there is anybody who believes in the world that Russia will stop in the Ukraine then we are making a fundamental mistake there. If we let Russia do what it is doing in Ukraine then I am pretty sure that NATO countries – such as the former Soviet countries of the Baltic States will be the next,” stated the Defence Minister of Georgia.

The EU Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP), regional cooperation, European Neighbourhood Policy, free trade and economic growth, existing challenges and future plans are on the agenda of the European Forum - “Has Europe reached its limits? Reflections on Europe’s future role on the global stage”.